You know how pleasant it feels when someone pays you a compliment. You could be the giver of that feeling to someone today. When giving someone a compliment see if you can find something that is very specific to that person. Perhaps they are someone who is even-tempered or maybe they are someone who always thinks of others. Perhaps they are someone who is non-judgmental of others or maybe their efforts at the gym are showing results. Take a good look at the people you come in contact with and acknowledge a positive behavior. Be the bright spot in someone's day. 

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An acquaintance shared with me how upset she was when someone had spoken to her in a cruel and condescending manner. This acquaintance was in her early 20's and she was struggling with how to process the hurtful words that had been thrown at her. It can really upset you when someone is unkind in their speech and how do you not take it personally?

At that moment when you feel your indignation rise up and your impulse is to strike back, pause and try to remember this verbal poison being spewed comes from a place of pain and suffering. This person is wounded and the harsh words come from the wound. This is a really difficult practice to work, especially if the words are unwarranted and disproportionate to the event. Yes we need to have clear boundaries with abusive people and we need to become aware of when speech is turning abusive. If you can for just a moment realize that this person's unhappiness and underlying misery are the root of the words and that they have nothing to do with you, you may find your response to be lighter and more compassionate. Pema Chodron suggests breathing out white light toward the aggressor (showing compassion for them) as a way to create some protective distance from them (which is compassion for self). Can you become so mindful and aware of present moment, that you can do this practice while the event is occuring? 

It is so interesting to me when people try to alleviate their own feelings of discomfort or fear by striking out at others. My impulse, which I am sure is all about how I was raised, is to direct those feelings into self-aggression. My default is to abuse myself and not others. 

So next time someone says something that is hurtful, try and see past the remarks and see the wounded human who is saying those things. Keep your boundaries and compassion strong at the same time. Now that is a practice!

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Extending the length of your exhalation has a calming effect and aids in activating the "relaxation response," which is the physiologic opposite of the stress-induced fight, flight or freeze response. If you are new to this pranayama practice, begin by doubling the length of the exhalation, e.g.., if your inhalation count is for two extend your exhalation to a count of four. Over time you can work up to an inhalation for a count of four and extend your out breath to a count of eight. Do this without any straining or forcing or gasping. Work at making the breath smooth and even. And do this in a comfortable seated position. Your breath is always with you, so you can practice anywhere and at any time. 

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Recently I have been challenged by a lot of tamas (darkness, heaviness, inert) in my life. Tamas is one of the three gunas (quality) with the other two being rajas (activity) and sattva (loving balance). And not so much mental or emotional tamas but more physical. To resist the pull of lethargy, I clean, and even that has been a struggle. So I am starting small, taking on one task at a time and focusing only on that task to keep the weight of overwhelm at bay. Instead of cleaning the kitchen I will address one countertop. Instead of cleaning my bedroom, I will put my nightstand in order. Chunking up these tasks gets them done and helps me stay motivated to do one more. This kind of practice is really helpful when you are feeling low or are struggling with a bout of depression when everything seems too large to approach. An additional benefit to doing the one thing at a time appraoch is that you can become very mindful of what you are doing and use it as a practice to stay focused on the present moment. 

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OUR REACTIVE SELVES by Sandra Ingerman

 

"None of us wants to live in a hostile environment, but that is where we find ourselves today. Divisive energy is toxic. As our feelings of separation and division grow deeper, so does the toxicity around us. 

As human beings we have egos, and the nature of the ego is to feel separate from others. The experience of feeling separate from others creates a host of emotions: anger, fear, jealousy, despair, violence, hate. 

And because it's human to compare ourselves with others, our interactions with the people around us touch deep nerves of self-worth and survival.We might feel that others have more intelligence, beauty, or wealth than we do. Our conversations with others might make us feel as if we are being judged. Our relationships with other people might lead us to feel less than.

It is important to understand that having emotions is good. As conscious human beings, we are naturally going to have feelings about what we see, hear, and experience. And we need to express our emotions as a way to let off necessary steam--cancer research has shown that people who repress their emotions often manifest physical illness. We have a right to our feelings and thoughts; they lead us into the depth of consciousness where true growth can occur. But we want to allow our darker states of consciousness to nurture the seeds that new life springs from. We don't want to just stay stuck in the darkness."

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Foods rich in potassium are good to eat at night to help relax muscles. Bananas are a great snack to have before bedtime as they are naturally loaded with potassium and magnesium as are sweet potatoes, lima beans, dried apricots, plain low-fat yogurt, and papaya. These foods also have the complex carbohydrates that fuel a peaceful night's sleep. Potassium also helps normalize heart rhythm and regulates the body's water balance. Excess potassium is eliminated by the kidneys, so if you have compromised kidney function avoid potassium. 

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As Spring and its warmer weather approaches, you may feel the urge to clean your windows from Winter's grime. This window cleaner is non-toxic and still effective. 

Pour 1/2 teaspoon Castile or plant-based liquid soap, 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar and 2 cups of water into a spray bottle and shake. Spray onto windows and wipe clean with a 100 percent cotton cloth or newspaper or a wiper used by the pros.

The liquid soap in this recipe will help remove any streak-causing wax left on the windows from any commercial cleaner you have used in the past. After a few times, you can eliminate the soap from the recipe.

Few domestic tasks are as satisfying as cleaning your windows. Enjoy!

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Spring is considered the best time of year to detox the body. You can detox the body in very gentle natural ways by consuming certain foods. Here are three easy combos to add to your diet. 

White beans with rosemary and garlic. Beans are a great source of protein and are rich in fiber that helps with elimination and regulating blood sugar. Rosemary is stimulating to the liver (your body's detoxifying organ) and boosts the production of glutathione which is a powerful antioxidant. Garlic, which is loaded with anti-viral and anti-bacterial compounds, is also good for glutathione production.

Bitter salad greens with celery and avocado. Arugula, dandelion, radicchio and other bitter greens stimulate bile flow and support the liver's ability to eliminate toxins from the body. Those dark green leafy vegetables are filled with cancer preventive chlorophyll. Celery acts as a gentle diuretic to support and cleanse the kidneys and has anti-inflammatory properties as well. Avocados, which are a great source of monounsaturated fats, also boost glutathione production.

Cranberry-lemon cocktail. Cranberries aid in keeping the urinary tract from accumulating bacteria and their bitter flavor also stimulates the liver. Lemons have an alkalizing effect on the body and can help clear mucus from the body. 

You may also want to consider taking a grape seed extract supplement which boosts the production of liver enzymes and helps clear out caffeine and over the counter medications. 

And of course, drinks lots of clean water. 

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Clear, organized space helps our minds become clear and organized.  I think most of us have an issue with some form of clutter in our spaces. For some people, it is clothing not put away, stacks of old magazines, basements or attics with boxes of old stuff. My particular clutter issue is with papers. Papers seem to multiply and are in too many parts of my living space. I am working on creating one inbox for all papers and am going to spend 10 minutes every day decluttering. Ten minutes a day to get organized. Let's not overwhelm ourselves with taking on too much, chip away at that pile for 10 minutes today and every day. Remember: little and often makes a lot. 

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If you are required to work on a computer for long periods of time, your eyes can become fatigued. Do this exercise at least once an hour when putting in heavy screen time or at any time your eyes feel strained.  Set the alarm on your phone to remind you.

Raise your arm in front of you and extend your thumb up (like in the "thumbs up" gesture).  Direct your gaze to the thumbnail, then direct your gaze to the farthest point in the distance you can see, then gaze back at the thumbnail and keep your gaze fixed there as you move the thumb to the tip of your nose and then back out again. Do this very slowly and repeat the whole sequence about five times and then close your eyes and breathe.

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